Assessing Dog Behavior

by Diane Blankenburg

We were privileged this past week to have Kelley Bollen in town, educating our area’s shelter staff and volunteers on a variety of topics that will help us better understand, care for, and place our shelter animals. She conducted sessions in understanding dog behavior, safe handling of dogs and cats, reducing stress for sheltered animals, and dog behavior evaluation and modifications.

Kelley Bollen is the owner and director of Animal Alliances. She has a Master’s Degree in Animal Behavior and is a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant (CABC). An accomplished expert in her field, Kelly is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all animals and extremely passionate about sharing her knowledge of animal behavior with people who live and work with them.

While Director of Behavior Programs for the Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, she developed a dog behavior assessment model that was based on years of hands-on research. This model—a proven tool to help assess and predict the behavior of shelter dogs—is what we now use at Nevada Humane Society to evaluate all dogs who come into our shelter. The assessment model is critical to making appropriate and successful adoption matches, as well as ensuring that we do not place animals who are not safe back into the community.

Designed to emulate normal situations that will occur once adopted animals are in a home environment, the evaluation process includes a series of exercises that assesses dogs’ sociability, how they protect their food and possessions, and how they react to strangers and other dogs. It is not a pure test where there is a pass/fail result, but rather an indicator of future behavior. This evaluation, when combined with the dog’s history and current observations in the shelter, gives staff valuable input  into making appropriate placement decisions.

Our mission at Nevada Humane Society is to care for the homeless pets in our community until we can find them find loving homes while at the same time protecting the community from dogs who pose a risk to humans and other animals. Animal behavior, just like human behavior, is not an exact science, but Kelley’s work helps us accomplish our mission more effectively by creating a more stress-free shelter environment, evaluating our dogs’ behavior with confidence, and placing our animals into the best homes possible. Thank you Kelley Bollen—for enriching our organization and even more importantly, for enriching the lives of the thousands of animals that depend upon us every year.

Note: Visit and “like” Animal Alliances Facebook page to stay in touch with Kelley’s work.

Events that Help Animals

Spring Fling Adoption Promotion, March 20 – April 2 at Nevada Humane Society. $20 for adult cat adoptions and $45 for adult dogs. Call 775-856-2000 for more information.

Easter Egg Hunt on March 30 at Nevada Humane Society. Hunt starts promptly at 3pm with 1,500 goodie-filled eggs available to children 14 and under. Shelter located at 2825 Longley Ln, Reno.


Spay/Neuter and How You Can Help

by Bonney Brown

Our dog care manager is being serenaded outside his window each night now. In truth, the serenade is not for his benefit; it is neighborhood cats doing their mating thing. Kitten season is just around the corner and it will last into the autumn months. Cats need all of us who care about them to do all we can to help reduce the number of kittens born this year and the good news is that there is still time to make a difference.

Every animal lover knows that spaying and neutering are the only effective method for controlling the numbers of animals being born in our community. Neutered pets also live longer, healthier lives and exhibit fewer behavior problems.

Ensuring that our own cats are fixed is important, but it is not enough to truly reduce the numbers of homeless cats. We need to encourage others in our lives to do the right thing. Perhaps a co-worker or friend has a cat that has not yet been neutered. Your gentle-but-persistent encouragement may be all it takes to prevent births.

Individuals with a limited or low income are often eligible for low-cost or free spay/neuter services for cats through Nevada Humane Society or the SPCA of Northern Nevada. Transportation can be a barrier to getting pets fixed for some people. If you have a neighbor who has a pet but does not have transportation, perhaps you can offer a ride to and from the clinic.

Many kind people in our community feed outdoor cats who just showed up where they work or live. These cats also need to be fixed to help prevent births. Humane trap loans (to safely catch outdoor cats) and free spay/neuter and vaccinations are available through Nevada Humane Society and Community Cats. Sometimes we get calls from elderly or handicapped people feeding cats who are unable to do the trapping themselves. Trained volunteers may be available to assist.

Our dog care manager is trapping outside his home each evening now to try to get the howling feline Romeo and Juliette spayed and neutered. But just by talking up the importance of spay/neuter to co-workers, friends and family and by sharing the contact information for low-cost services, you can contribute to the important work of reducing the number of homeless animals in our community. On behalf of homeless cats, thank you!

Nevada Humane Society’s Spay/Neuter Assistance and Volunteer Opportunities

Low-cost spay/neuter assistance for cats: 775-856-2000 ext. 333

Help getting outdoor cats fixed: 775-856-2000 ext. 200

Spay/neuter related volunteer opportunities: 775-856-2000 ext. 321

Heroes of the Animal Welfare World

by Diane Blankenburg

Nevada Humane Society has become a model for open-admission, no-kill shelters across the country through our efforts over the last six years. It is an accomplishment for which we are all very proud, but at the same time, it is extremely humbling.

As I meet other people in the animal welfare field, the reaction is sometimes similar to meeting their favorite rock star or childhood hero. In reality, we have faced the same challenges and persevered in spite of them. We have gone through the same blood, sweat, and tears as any other animal shelter that is just trying to do the right thing.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit the Kansas City Pet Project (KCPP) in Kansas City, Missouri. KCPP is a new organization (about one year old) who took over the daunting task of operating its city animal shelter, and boldly began leading lifesaving efforts of homeless pets throughout the Kansas City community. This was the brainchild of a few people who simply had a dream and the grit and determination to make that dream come true.

Against all odds, they have achieved remarkable success in a very short period of time, saving more lives than ever before. The management team is united in fulfilling the organization’s mission—their dream–to end the killing of healthy and treatable pets in Kansas City. They will not be satisfied until this dream is realized and they know they have created a sustainable, lifesaving community.

KCPP is proud (as it should be) but also humble. They are poised to take the organization to the next level but also realize that they still have lots to learn and understand in order to make this happen. And they are reaching out for every resource available to ensure their dream comes true as efficiently and effectively as possible—not for their own glory, but for the sake of the homeless pets who have no voice.

For me, groups like KCPP are also heroes. The founders  believed in something, took responsibility, and reached for the stars. I was flattered to learn that we inspired them to keep going even when the going was very difficult.  But they are also an inspiration to me, helping us keep on doing the right thing.

So I am quite proud to be a part of Nevada Humane Society where we reached our dream of becoming a true safety net for our community’s homeless pets; and I am honored to have met the KCPP team and played a role in helping them also make their dreams come true.

Events that Help Animals

Doggie Palooza Week special adoption fees from March 6 – 12. Adopt an adult dog for $40 and an adult cat for $20. All animals are microchipped, vaccinated, and spayed/neutered. Call 775-856-2000 for more information.


National Day to Unplug and Connect with Our Animal Friends

by Bonney Brown

How many times have you checked your e-mail today? Liked a Facebook friend’s photo of their dog this morning? Laughed over an adorable animal video on YouTube?

Animal people are into online activity more than nearly any other interest group. What could be more fun than watching a video of a Jack Russell Terrier joyfully popping balloons or reading clever quotes attributed to the sour-faced Grumpy Cat? No doubt technology is fun and convenient, but is it really enhancing our communication?

Recently one CEO, Shayne Hughes of Learning as Leadership, decided his staff had become too dependent on email to communicate with each other. So he ordered no internal email messages for an entire week. People would have to connect the old-fashioned way, by phone or in person.

“I announced it in a Thursday staff meeting,” said Hughes. “The very next day, I felt this emptiness because there wasn’t a slew of things coming at me. . . I’m so used to being reactive to these things. Then I thought what should I be doing with my time right now?”

Well, today is the fourth annual National Day of Unplugging. The idea is to disconnect from the virtual world for a day so that we can reconnect more fully with the real one.

This is where our pets come in. In a world far removed from nature and focused on tomorrow, animals are an important connection, for all of us who love them, to a more real and immediate world. They live completely in the present moment, love with abandon and fully enjoy the pleasures of the moment. In spending time with them, we get to share in their exuberance and their affection and reconnect with nature.

So today, turn off that cell phone, and take at least a few hours away from your computer. Instead of surfing online, try taking your dog for a walk, brushing your cat, or playing your pet’s favorite game with them. The rewards include reduced stress, lower blood pressure and a fulfilling connection with another being who will give you unconditional love.

Perhaps in unplugging this one day, you will recharge your spirit and rekindle that connection with those you love, both two- and four-footed.

Events that Help Animals:

Doggie Palooza March 9, 10 am to 6:30 pm, at the Nevada Humane Society shelter. Dog Marketplace, cool dogs available for adoption, and celebrity guests. Admission is free. Shelter located at 2825 Longley Lane, between Rock Blvd. and Mira Loma Dr.

SPCA of Northern Nevada Pledges for Pets Love Life Telethon, March 10 from 5 pm – 10 pm, on My21TV to raise funds for at-risk pets in our community. For more information, visit

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